Retail Innovaiton - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints https://www.retailtouchpoints.com Sun, 17 Nov 2019 22:23:03 -0500 RTP en-gb McKinsey & Co. Debuts Combination Store-Learning Lab In Mall Of America https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations/mckinsey-co-debuts-combination-store-learning-lab-in-mall-of-america https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations/mckinsey-co-debuts-combination-store-learning-lab-in-mall-of-america McKinsey & Co. Debuts Combination Store-Learning Lab In Mall Of America

McKinsey & Company has opened its first brick-and-mortar retail store in the Mall of America near Minneapolis, which includes Elevé Cosmetics, Kendra Scott, ThirdLove and type:A Deodorant. The nearly 3,000-square-foot concept, called Modern Retail Collective, is designed to serve as both a retail store and a learning lab — a place where brands can test new technology and learn what resonates with their customers prior to implementing at scale.

“For the first wave, we wanted to pick a couple of brands that we thought were going to have an integrated experience for the customer,” said Tiffany Burns, Partner in McKinsey’s Atlanta office and leader of the consultancy’s retail stores practice in North America. “If you think about the store as it is today, with the combination of jewelry, intimates and beauty products throughout the store, it’s targeted towards a younger female demographic.”

For example, the Kendra Scott area of the store enables shoppers to walk up to a “Color Bar,” pick up RFID-activated stones to assemble a personalized bracelet and virtually see what it would look like in various configurations on a screen.

“On that screen, the shopper can design the bracelet on their own versus waiting behind people in line,” Burns said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You can design it yourself with unlimited combinations and metal types, colors and texture, and then have it shipped to you. It was a feature Kendra Scott already has in its stores but we basically took it and created the next generation of it.”

Mobile Product Access, Data Collection, Smart Mirrors Spearhead In-Store Tech

Solutions deployed throughout the store include:

  • Interactive mobile hotspots throughout the store designed to provide customers with single-tap access to product details, including reviews, and allow them to add to their virtual baskets as they go;
  • Smart mirrors with extended product catalogs and fit predictor software, allowing customers to try on items outside the fitting room;
  • Integrated cloud infrastructure capturing cutting-edge data across the customer journey, turning the store into a data collection hub; and
  • Payment options including RFID, mobile checkout and cryptocurrency capabilities designed to support faster purchases.

Participating technology partners include Microsoft, Square, RetailNext, Zebra Technologies, Chatter Research, Compass Marketing, ComQi, FaceCake, Farfetch, Flexa, MSM Solutions and Smartrac.

The technology augments the “learning lab” experience and empowers both McKinsey and the brands to discover more about shopper habits both within and outside the store. The concept and its data collection feel similar to b8ta, which focuses on getting shoppers to try out new tech products in its stores, giving its up-and-coming e-Commerce partners access to massive troves of data. The company, which recently opened a store in New York City’s Hudson Yards, can test everything from pricing to capture rates and dwell times, helping brands get a feel for how their products perform in a live setting.

“Everybody’s seeing the pressure and trying to figure out ‘How do I drive more people into my brick-and-mortar store?’ and ‘How do I make sure when they’re there that I deliver a new customer experience that makes them want to stay there, spend time and engage with the product so that they ultimately buy more?’” Burns said. “The traffic equation and then the in-store experience to get you to buy more stuff is what everyone’s trying to figure out on the revenue side of things. That’s why with these experiences, we’re aiming to track what customers do throughout their journey and which of those things are analytically proven to show that people buy more.

McKinsey Store Journey: From Internal Lab To Serving Customers

Burns noted that McKinsey talked to approximately 30 retailers about potentially being involved in the store. The majority were elated with the idea, largely because of the difficulty they’ve experienced navigating a sometimes overwhelming technology space where new platforms are launched frequently. Additionally, retailers that wanted to trial these technologies didn’t want to disrupt their own stores yet, and felt they may not have had the right people internally to prepare the integration.

The McKinsey team initially planned on building an internal lab to test how the technologies would integrate in a retail environment, but various retail partners suggested that they create a customer-facing lab in a freestanding store.

“A lot of our clients are having a challenge trying to navigate all the potential technology and different customer experience opportunities out there and trying to figure out what really works, what really makes sense in their business context, where they should be thinking about retail investments and where the business case makes sense,” Burns said.

McKinsey says it will need at least 10 full-time store associates within the store. In early 2020, McKinsey will welcome new retail and technology participants, with each rotation of participants anticipated to last three to four months. McKinsey is forecasting that the Modern Retail Collective will remain open for at least 12 to 18 months.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Store Operations Mon, 30 Sep 2019 08:00:00 -0400
Walgreens, FedEx Will Launch On-Demand Drone Delivery Pilot https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/shopper-experience/walgreens-fedex-will-launch-on-demand-drone-delivery-pilot https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/shopper-experience/walgreens-fedex-will-launch-on-demand-drone-delivery-pilot Walgreens, FedEx Will Launch On-Demand Drone Delivery Pilot

Walgreens will partner with Wing, a drone technology subsidiary of Google, to launch a trial delivery program in Christiansburg, Va. Local retailer Sugar Magnolia also will take part in the pilot, and FedEx Express customers who live within designated areas will be able to receive some packages in a special box that can be dropped off via drone.

Walgreens will offer over-the-counter medicine and other health and wellness items on-demand, while Sugar Magnolia will send cards and small gifts. Drones are expected to fulfill the orders in minutes, demonstrating how this form of delivery can improve access to health care products, create new avenues of growth for businesses and enhance the efficiency of last mile delivery service.

Wing became the first drone operator to receive government approval as an airline in April, marking an important step on the path to having legal authority to deliver packages. Drone regulations ban most flights over crowds and urban areas, but the approval means Wing is allowed to handle longer deliveries in Virginia and can apply to operate in other states as well.

Wing started working on its delivery capabilities long before it received approval for commercial uses, most famously when the company delivered hundreds of burritos by air at Virginia Tech in 2016, according to CNN. However, that test was limited to a single, closed-off site, while this latest delivery program will cover an area of several miles.

Air-powered last mile delivery is an important step in meeting shoppers’ ever-growing delivery demands, particularly as Amazon strives to make one-day shipping the new normal. Shrinking delivery windows may be part of why shoppers are becoming interested in this technology: 37.1% of consumers said they are significantly more comfortable with retailers and transportation companies using drones as of February 2019, an increase of 28.8% from 2018, according to the Retail TouchPoints Annual Connected Retailer Survey.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Bryan Wassel) Shopper Experience Fri, 20 Sep 2019 12:27:33 -0400
Bean Bag Chair Seller Pilots AR Across E-Commerce, Mobile Sites https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/e-commerce/bean-bag-chair-seller-pilots-ar-across-e-commerce-mobile-sites https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/e-commerce/bean-bag-chair-seller-pilots-ar-across-e-commerce-mobile-sites Bean Bag Chair Seller Pilots AR Across E-Commerce, Mobile Sites

Fatboy, a company that manufactures and sells premium, high-quality indoor and outdoor lifestyle products, including the Fatboy Original bean bag chair, has an average basket size between $250 and $300, with shoppers buying an average of 1.5 products per purchase. Since shoppers often have long gaps between site visits and purchases, the company turned to augmented reality to showcase some of its best products on its desktop and mobile web sites.

Fatboy became one of the first retailers to adopt CGTrader ARsenal, an AR platform designed to leverage 3D modeling to enable online shoppers to experience lifestyle products immediately in their home environments.

“Unlike IKEA where it pays off to invest in a complete proprietary AR platform, for us it is not an option,” said Tom de Vos, E-Commerce Director of Fatboy in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This allows us to have as good as an IKEA app without needing to invest in an app — we just need to select five products that amass 60% of our product turnover, transform them via AR and have them live on our web site.”

Fatboy had initially set a target date of 2021 for an AR rollout, but the easy implementation of the ARsenal technology accelerated the company’s plans, de Vos noted.

“We just had to send some 2D pictures to them and very rapidly they could convert this into augmented reality models that we could then plug and play into our web site,” said de Vos. “We have three products that are live now on our U.S. web site, and we are working on extending the entire assortment. Right now, we our redesigning our web site so we can integrate AR in our entire web page in a better way.”

Improving 3D product visualization benefits both Fatboy’s e-Commerce presence and its own retail partners that sell the products both online and in-store.

“The next step is offering this to other retailers,” de Vos said. “In the U.S., we are selling to Macy’s, and in Europe, we have some very big omnichannel clients. In the long term, we are looking to assist physical stores as well that are struggling right now with keeping our products, which are oversized, in stock. The AR solution allows them, in combination with a drop shipping solution, to basically have an endless aisle assortment of Fatboy products in-store.”

AR Rollout Stems From Ease Of Use, Large Designer Community

For Fatboy, the selection of ARsenal came down to two key factors. First, “we can pick the products we want, send the image and then they can transform this product into a 3D image that can be viewed in augmented reality,” de Vos said. “This leads to the second point of how easy it is — we just can copy and paste the link and we have AR.”

Additionally, Fatboy reduces the need for expensive product photoshoots, as the 3D models can be based on images from a product link or even a photo taken with a mobile phone. Additionally, the company doesn’t need a heavy upfront investment in highly skilled 3D designers to create a new mobile app, since the CGTrader community already includes nearly 2 million 3D designers and close to 10 years of 3D design experience.

The ARsenal solution includes features such as:

  • Photorealistic 3D modeling for any volume of products/SKUs;
  • Seamless AR integration with the retailer’s online store using single-click embedded links;
  • Flexible 2D-to-3D product conversion plans based on monthly volume and budget requirements;
  • An integrated 3D Model Viewer; and
  • A centralized 3D Model portal for 3D model management and storage.

The 3D models developed using CGTrader ARsenal are available on both Apple AR Quick Look and Android ARCore Scene Viewer, which come standard on Apple and Android mobile devices respectively. Shoppers don’t need additional software to view the 3D models in AR on mobile iOS and Android devices.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) E-Commerce Wed, 28 Aug 2019 09:45:52 -0400
Brazilian Retailer Plans Checkout-Free Stores https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/brazilian-retailer-plans-checkout-free-stores https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/brazilian-retailer-plans-checkout-free-stores Brazilian Retailer Plans Checkout-Free Stores

Lojas Americanas S.A. will deploy checkout-free technology from Zippin in stores throughout the country.

The Brazilian retailer will use the technology in its Ame Go convenience store locations. Customers gain entry by scanning the company’s Ame Digital app. The stores will range from 250 to 3,000 square feet in size and will be located in high-traffic urban areas. Additionally, Zippin is in the process of creating an automated Ame Box checkout-free store-within-a-store concept.

The Zippin checkout-free technology uses machine learning, overhead cameras and smart shelf sensors to track customers' movements and item selection. Shoppers are charged for the products they choose as they exit the Ame Go store.

The first Zippin-powered store opened in Rio four months ago, and a São Paulo location is scheduled to open soon.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Brianna Ruback) News Briefs Fri, 16 Aug 2019 13:19:45 -0400
Betabrand Turns San Francisco Store Into A Podcast Studio Complete With Live Audience https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations/betabrand-turns-san-francisco-store-into-a-podcast-studio-complete-with-live-audience https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations/betabrand-turns-san-francisco-store-into-a-podcast-studio-complete-with-live-audience Betabrand Turns San Francisco Store Into A Podcast Studio Complete With Live Audience

Betabrand is no stranger to forward-thinking experiential retail: the company leverages a crowdfunding platform that enables online shoppers to decide what clothes get designed, manufactured and sold on Betabrand.com. In 2019, Betabrand has expanded on its experiential roots with a very nontraditional store feature — a “Podcast Theater” that hosts podcasts in front of a live audience.

The company brings small- to medium-sized podcasts to its San Francisco store every Thursday and invites nearly 100 guests to listen in, well above the average of 20 to 30 people who visit the store on a typical Thursday night. Podcast booking became so popular that Betabrand ended up with three months of shows programmed in just three days, booking through the summer.

“Podcasting is the new blog, and everyone either has one or is considering launching one,” said Chris Lindland, Founder of Betabrand in a statement. “We put out a call for performers on Facebook and had three months of shows booked in under 10 days — with some traveling from as far away as New York to perform."

Lindland said that the podcasts and related social posts introduce Betabrand to an audience 100X the number of shoppers who’d visit the store on any given evening.

Betabrand has a long history of turning its flagship storefront into a social spectacle to spread brand awareness. Some of the company's less serious, but more attention-grabbing experiments to drive consumers to the store have included posting billboards across San Francisco seeking help finding a “lost cobra” and offering $35 “platypus eggnog” during the holiday season.

The podcast idea is an alternative to a lot of experiential concepts established within stores today, which can range from services as simple as in-store makeovers at Sephora to grandiose virtual reality experiences such as a “bike through Provence” at L'Occitane En Provence, where shoppers can ride stationary bikes against a scenic French background. As part of Macy’s second experiential STORY iteration, 36 stores host community-focused event programming such as indoor gardening workshops, barbecue cooking classes, terrarium-making classes and even outdoor activities such as kayaking on the Hudson River. In total, STORY at Macy’s will program more than 250 events.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Store Operations Mon, 12 Aug 2019 14:05:39 -0400
Lead Innovation Summit Report: If Shopper Habits Are Fluid, Flexibility Is A Retail Must https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/trend-watch/lead-innovation-summit-report-if-shopper-habits-are-fluid-flexibility-is-a-retail-must https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/trend-watch/lead-innovation-summit-report-if-shopper-habits-are-fluid-flexibility-is-a-retail-must Lead Innovation Summit Report: If Shopper Habits Are Fluid, Flexibility Is A Retail Must

Rapid, dramatic changes in shopping habits have pushed retailers to transform their businesses in a variety of ways. But if there’s one thing all merchants should agree on, it’s that innovation is fluid and must be a continuous process. “There’s always going to be a ‘work in progress,’” said Matt Alexander, Co-Founder and CEO of Neighborhood Goods during a panel at The Lead Innovation Summit, held in the Brooklyn EXPO Center July 9-10.

“You have to have a general sense of self-awareness and willingness to acknowledge that you don’t necessarily have a finished product and the answer to every problem,” Alexander added.

Amanda Baldwin, President of Supergoop!, a protective skincare brand designed to be worn daily, shared similar advice: “Don’t consider any decision final. The customer truly is ultimately what matters; don’t be afraid to change something if you make a mistake.”

The panel, titled: What The Modern Consumer Wants: Living In A Pull Vs. Push World, revealed how three retailers have adapted to a consumer environment where the brand has to meet the consumer at all shopping channels to win their attention, instead of the other way around. Also including Caroline Gogolak, VP of Retail at SoulCycle, the panel was symbolic of the overall summit’s mission: to connect leaders in apparel/fashion and technology through stories surrounding brand communities, AI implementation and sustainability.

Executives from some of retail’s most forward-thinking players, including Eloquii, Gap Inc.’s Hill City and H&M Group, convened to share insights on these topics, while innovative retail companies such as Greats, UNTUCKit, Ayr, Hatch, Rebag, Knot Standard, Snowe, Rosenthal, Zenni and MyVerte marketplace founder Project Verte showcased their products to the 1,000+ attendees on the event floor.

Eloquii, Greats And Hill City Thrive Through Brand Communities

Another panel focused on how three young retailers — Eloquii, Greats and Hill City — have leveraged their relationships with passionate consumers to grow their brands. Eloquii, originally launched in 2011 as part of The Limited and then shut down shortly after, was relaunched in 2014 because the “customer base freaked out,” according to CEO Mariah Chase.

Chase said that the company noticed blogs from former shoppers lamenting that one of the few options for plus-size apparel was no longer available had gone viral. “The entirety of the Eloquii existence and relaunch was founded on this idea that we were listening to these customers and coming back specifically for them,” she said.

While Eloquii initially had no plans to expand to stores upon its relaunch, the former online-only has retailer opened six stores over the past two years. One interaction on Instagram, which came from a customer asking when they would get a store in Tulsa, Okla., stood out to Chase.

“It was almost like, ‘I challenge you to do this offline,’” Chase said. “When you talk about having community, there’s no better place to have community than those four walls.”

Community also can come from participation if it’s managed correctly. Noah Palmer, General Manager of Hill City, attributes much of the company’s rapid success to the company’s Wear Tester community program, a group of 600 product testers that offer feedback and recommendations about the performance and comfort of newly released apparel. The 600 product testers come from a much larger pool of 30,000 applicants, who applied via chatbots in Facebook Messenger and Twitter direct messages.

This “army of advocates” has enabled Hill City to balance function and fashion, even when Palmer didn’t always think that was possible when he oversaw the launch of the retailer just nine months ago.

“When we set out with this Wear Tester program, we liked what we were getting from a feedback standpoint,” Palmer said during the panel. “What we weren’t thinking too much about was what being part of something was going to mean to a lot of these guys. It was important to tell stories of some of our best wear testers, and that lifestyle that represents what we feel like Hill City is. We sent out this catalog to a low distribution of shoppers and there were a lot of guys that mailed us saying, ‘Hey, I really appreciated the story you told around Bobby,’ or sharing it on social pages.”

“Community” is a term that is often associated with sneaker culture, which relies heavily on shoppers who collect pairs as a hobby. Greats leveraged this popularity in its first year of business by not spending money on advertising, instead relying primarily on organic, community-driven efforts. But Founder and CEO Ryan Babenzien acknowledged that the company’s growth since 2015 has developed further by moving away from that initial strategy as the retailer seeks to acquire new shoppers.

“The hype of the sneaker community is, in my opinion, unsustainable,” Babenzien said. “As a new brand, we didn’t want to be chasing these kind of hype trends that are just really expensive. In that process, we started to define our product offering and realized that we had a different customer base that was interested in the brand. We started as men-only, and in 2017 we offered sneakers for women. We have young moms and dads — there’s multiple communities within our shoppers.”

This led the Greats team to build out more content stories for its footwear, as well as in-store events that complement an offering entirely created under one vertically integrated supply chain.

H&M Plans Sustainable Future, Minimizes Overstock With ‘Amplified Intelligence’

Communities can play a big role in driving the consumer-facing end of today’s retail experiences, but artificial intelligence often plays just as big a role by enabling merchants to make the right back-end decisions. Arti Zeighami, Global Head of Analytics & AI at H&M Group, capped off his session by revealing that the fast fashion retailer processes 900 million transactions per year, further necessitating H&M to prioritize AI.

However, Zeighami and the H&M analytics team have a different term for “AI”; they call it “Amplified Intelligence,” because it’s designed to improve logistics and help the retailer prioritize ethical and sustainable choices (namely minimizing overstock and overproduction).

“By putting the right product in the right market in the right store at the right time, we will not only show that our customer offering is the best, but also show that we are utilizing too much power,” Zeighami said.

With improved logistics efficiency, H&M’s goal is to cut inventories to 12% to 14% percent of sales by end 2022. Additionally, H&M now seeks to detect both rising and falling fashion trends.

“The controllers typically will see everyone else buying from mass markets and say to the buyer, ‘We should buy more of this product even if it’s on a downswing,’ so they end up having an overstock of that product,” said Zeighami. “By amplifying intelligence, if we were able to give the buyer this tool back then, she would have been able to prove her gut feeling and say ‘We shouldn’t buy this. I have data that can help me make a better decision.’”

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Trend Watch Fri, 12 Jul 2019 08:48:38 -0400
Lowe’s Picks Charlotte, N.C. Location For Global Tech Center https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/omnichannel-cross-channel-strategies/lowe-s-picks-charlotte-n-c-location-for-global-tech-center https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/omnichannel-cross-channel-strategies/lowe-s-picks-charlotte-n-c-location-for-global-tech-center Lowe’s Picks Charlotte, N.C. Location For Global Tech Center

Lowe’s is putting its money where its mouth is as it continues to invest in technology. The retailer will occupy a 357,000-square-foot global technology center in Charlotte, N.C. dedicated to employing 2,000 of the company’s tech professionals.

The home improvement retailer is investing $153 million in the project and will occupy 15 of the 23 floors within the tower, which will serve as the “epicenter for the team Lowe’s is hiring to help modernize its IT systems and build future retail experiences,” according to a statement. The tech center will create 1,600 new jobs, with 400 employees relocating from the company headquarters in Mooresville, N.C.

Lowe’s expects to fill the first 400 new tech positions in the next year, and plans to begin hiring for these roles immediately. Available roles will include software and infrastructure engineers, data scientists, analysts, architects, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) professionals, and AI and machine learning engineers.

The developer, a joint venture between Childress Klein and RAM Realty Advisors, plans to break ground on the Design Center Tower in August 2019, with Lowe’s moving in by late 2021.  

In December 2018, Lowe’s announced plans to invest more than $500 million annually through 2021 toward the company’s technology transformation. The home improvement retailer already has more than 3,300 existing tech specialists on staff, and it acquired retail analytics technology from Boomerang Commerce in May 2019.

Lowe’s has a major presence in the Charlotte market, operating 21 stores and employing nearly 11,000 associates there.

The retailer plans to work closely with city, county and state economic development leaders, along with local tech organizations, schools and universities, to help develop and add to its pipeline of tech talent. The state is offering more than $55 million in incentive funds as part of the deal.

Lowe’s will maintain technology teams in existing strategic locations, including Mooresville; Kirkland, Wash.; and Bangalore, India. 

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Fri, 28 Jun 2019 13:14:44 -0400
Exclusive Q&A With Scott Emmons: ‘Open Innovation’ Requires Collaboration And Cross-Pollination https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/trend-watch/exclusive-q-a-with-scott-emmons-open-innovation-requires-collaboration-and-cross-pollination https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/trend-watch/exclusive-q-a-with-scott-emmons-open-innovation-requires-collaboration-and-cross-pollination 0aaascottemmonsUpon leaving his position as Director of the Neiman Marcus iLab, which he founded, to become CTO of retail innovation consultancy Current Global, Scott Emmons noted that the culture of legacy organizations can often hold back the progress of retailers’ internal innovation labs.

“For fashion and retail brands to succeed, they need to shift from an internally driven culture to one focused on open innovation with the world’s top technology and talent,” Emmons said in a statement. At Retail TouchPoints Live!, June 25-26 in Chicago, Emmons will expand on the reasons why retailers must focus on “open innovation,” and what makes an agile, nimble retail innovation strategy.

In an interview with Retail TouchPoints, Emmons previewed his presentation, titled: Building Innovation Teams, and also elaborated on the gaps retailers still must bridge as they seek to out-innovate their competitors.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): In your upcoming Retail TouchPoints Live! session, you will discuss how retailers should solve their innovation challenges by using an open innovation model. Can you elaborate on what exactly this means?

Scott Emmons: What you’ve seen in the past is a lot of internal teams building out innovation projects, and sticking in the ‘we know our business best’ model. The open innovation approach is really about collaboration and cross-pollination. I don’t think it’s super complex, but it’s a mindset that is hard to instill in a big enterprise today.

You see a lot more of it going on than you did 10 years ago, but there’s still a lot of organizations that rely only on their internal teams. I’m not saying nothing good comes out of that, certainly it does. But if they’re looking to change the game, you have a better chance when you have inputs from a lot more directions.

RTP: Within larger enterprises, where do you see these innovation challenges coming from?

Emmons: This comes from several directions. Some of it is a trust issue; there’s a thought that ‘We can’t really talk about anything we do internally outside, because our competitors could get a hold of it and use it against us.’ And there’s some validity to that, so I think you’ll have to have some kind of controls in place. But in a world moving as fast as it moves now — even with companies that are operating just in the U.S. — there’s still global implications to what they’re doing. You’ve got to figure out a way to bring in different opinions, teams and approaches and stir the pot with all these different ingredients and see what comes out of it.

RTP: What’s your advice about bringing in the right people to support these initiatives?

Emmons: Don’t forget the people that are actually working in the stores, don’t forget the people that are in the creative part of your business and don’t forget the people that actually work with the products that you sell. You need input from all walks of life.

I think that I was successful in the things I tried at Neiman Marcus because I did not have a lifelong career as a retailer. I was in many different things before I came to Neiman Marcus, so my perspective was different from someone that had been in luxury fashion retail for their whole career — I think that was helpful for me to have a different viewpoint.

But it still was a luxury fashion business, so I needed to partner with people that were good at that to be successful.

RTP: Which learnings from Neiman Marcus have been most useful in your present role at Current Global?

Emmons: I didn’t know it was called an open innovation approach when I started the Innovation Lab at Neiman Marcus; I just believed that the more partners and the more inputs, the better. Current Global is an external incarnation of what I was trying to do with the iLab, and that was the connecting point for all these different ideas and technologies — having people that can speak retail and having people that can speak tech, creative and visual.

Whenever tech needs to talk business or business needs to talk creative, we need to be able to sit on the fence and make sure that everybody understands what the conversation is about. Current Global gives me the opportunity to go do those things for a lot of different brands, and get to work with a lot more technology partners.

RTP: How do you feel teams can improve internal communication so that everyone is on the same page?

Emmons: I don’t know if I have a cookie-cutter recipe for that. There’s a tendency for there to be fiefdoms among different areas of the business. Just getting everybody in a room together and having discussions about new innovation projects and technology is important. I did a lot of internal road shows saying ‘Hey look, these are the things that are going on out in the world and here are the steps that you can take today that you couldn’t take yesterday.’ Education helps spark creative thinking around ways that these new capabilities can be applied to a business and help open the discussion.

We’ve tried other things such as communication and collaboration platforms and so forth, with varied and limited success. It really was just about keeping the conversation going, and providing us with a safe place to go have those conversations.

RTP: Where do retailers still have gaps in their innovation processes, especially if they’re either trying to expand or improve their channel alignment strategies?

Emmons: For me, it’s a combination of two things. One is needing strong and direct support from the C-suite. If the CEO thinks this is important, then this is probably important for me as well to participate in…but I don’t think that works all by itself.

At Neiman Marcus I was positioned from the ground up. It was about garnering support from all the resources that actually go out and execute things, and making sure that they were aligned and battling against the mentality of ‘We already have too many initiatives, we don’t have time to try anything new.’ You have to rally the troops, if you will, to find the time.

As you know, this has been a prolonged period of retailers talking about innovation and the best ways to approach it. It’s sort of outlived buzzwords like AI or big data or all the things that have been dubbed ‘the next big thing’ over the past few years.

We have to get back to delivering experiences and solutions for our customers that differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Even when we stumble upon one, or produce something that does that through direct innovation programs, it doesn’t last very long before something else comes along that’s a better way to do it.

The only way from a retailer’s perspective to keep up with all that is with an open innovation approach.

I don’t remember exactly who said this, it might have been Brian Solis, but innovation wasn’t invented just because everybody has a smartphone. People have innovated for thousands of years. What’s changed is the big impact technology has on that process and how fast you have to do it.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Trend Watch Tue, 25 Jun 2019 08:12:40 -0400
Starbucks Purchases Clean Energy To Power 3,000 Stores By 2021 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/starbucks-purchases-clean-energy-to-power-3-000-stores-by-2021 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/starbucks-purchases-clean-energy-to-power-3-000-stores-by-2021 Starbucks Purchases Clean Energy To Power 3,000 Stores By 2021

Starbucks has closed a deal that will supply clean power to the electricity grids serving 3,000 of its stores by 2021. A three-project, 146-megawatt renewable energy portfolio will tap wind and solar farms in North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. The portfolio was constructed with the help of LevelTen Energy, a technology-enabled power procurement platform.

“As we continue to strive towards building and operating the world’s largest green retail business, we know we need to find innovative business models to achieve our renewable energy goals,” said Patrick Leonard, Energy Manager for Starbucks company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada in a statement. “Not only does this portfolio model allow us to support new solar and wind farms that will deliver the clean energy equivalent to the electricity powering over 3,000 stores, it also opens the door for many new buyers to cost-effectively source smaller amounts of renewable energy.”

The Starbucks portfolio was enabled by LevelTen Energy’s Dynamic Matching Engine, software that curates and analyzes massive data sets on clean energy projects under development. Using this technology, the LevelTen team identifies optimal available project combinations for individual corporate buyers. Companies can then execute power purchase agreements (PPAs) individually or in partnership with other buyers. Going forward, data sharing collaborations between the energy project developers and LevelTen will enable Starbucks to monitor its renewable energy generation, track portfolio performance and streamline contract management.

“Starbucks is setting an important precedent in the corporate energy procurement space by demonstrating how a single off-taker can safely and easily procure shares of renewable energy from a variety of new wind and solar projects,” said Bryce Smith, CEO of LevelTen Energy in a statement. “This approach enables many more corporate and institutional buyers to support, in a fiscally responsible way, the massive buildout of new clean energy projects across the globe.”

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Adam Blair) Retail Innovaiton Wed, 05 Jun 2019 14:15:30 -0400
Sofia Kaman Debuts ‘My Treasure’ Try-It-On App For Jewelry Shoppers https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/mobile/sofia-kaman-debuts-my-treasure-try-it-on-app-for-jewelry-shoppers https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/mobile/sofia-kaman-debuts-my-treasure-try-it-on-app-for-jewelry-shoppers

0aaasofiavirtual-ring-try-on 7Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels has debuted a new augmented reality (AR) app on its web site called My Treasure, which enables customers to upload photos of their hand from their mobile device to virtually try on any ring or to curate a ring stack within the app.

The feature is designed to be user-friendly, enabling shoppers to simply click the top left corner navigation icon on their phone to sign in or create an account and use the My Treasure app. Shoppers can immediately select a ring and scroll the photos to the My Treasure hand icon. Once they tap the hand image, they can take a photo of their hand or upload a new image.

From there, the ring image will pop up in a default position. Shoppers can both move the ring to reposition it over their finger and pinch to resize the ring to fit.

All women's rings (excluding vintage) are photographed in a size six and are for reference only. If the user’s finger is larger than a size six, the overall scale of the ring may appear larger than in real life. Conversely, if the user’s finger is smaller than that size, then the overall scale of the ring may appear smaller than in real life. The purpose of the application is to give reference to how shapes will look on a finger and how ring stacks pair together.

The feature is compatible with Safari/Chrome on iPhone and with Chrome on Android. Sofia Kaman is working towards compatibility across as many platforms as possible.

AR and virtual reality are becoming more commonplace retail experiences, with more companies leveraging these technologies to give shoppers a better sense of the product without seeing it in person. In particular, jewelry, eyewear and accessories retailers are letting shoppers “try on” their products.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Mobile Thu, 30 May 2019 12:54:16 -0400